It was a packed house at the Kigali Serena Hotel outdoor tent as gospel and secular music met on the same stage at Friday’s Jazz Junction.
Organziers kept hauling in more seats as the numbers swelled, and eventually every inch of the tent was covered.
And there was every reason for the high attendance:
Kidum, the headline act for the night has cultivated the kind of musical following in the region that he does not need a lot of hype or a new hit to pull crowds.
He boasts a particularly large Francophone following, a market segment that has not been served too well in previous Jazz Junctions.
Like Kidum, local gospel outfit, the Beauty For Ashes also marshaled in their own unique crowd -that of gospel music lovers in general, and their huge fan base in particular.
This (gospel) was a first at the Jazz Junction.
But first on stage was yet another surprise of the night, the Yembe Voices. This is a group of three youngsters that hardly anyone knew, but that set the pace on stage with their powerful medley acapellas.
Then it was time for Beauty For Ashes, which seemed on a mission to demonstrate that, before the “gospel” or “Christian tag, they are artistes first and foremost.
With the launch of the band’s latest album, Renaissance just round the corner, sneak peeks were just in order.
Fans got a taste of what is to come on the album but also of the band’s finesse, in songs like Sifa and Yesu ni sawa.
US based gospel singer Adrien Misigaro also made a surprise but brief appearance on stage. He had jetted into the country a few hours earlier, ahead of the Beauty For Ashes’ album launch slated for July 9th, and at which he will perform as a guest artiste.
No wonder he spent just a few moments on stage.
From the warm reception accorded to the Beauty For Ashes and Adrien, we can only expect more gospel segments in future Jazz Junctions.
It was about 10:30 pm when Kidum marched onto stage with a bevy of back up vocalists, dancers and instrumentalists.
From the start, it was obvious he was in for a high energy showcase.
He delivered his performance in two different sets, each backed by a different band. In the end, both proved worthy stand-ins for Kidum’s own band.
First he worked with the Rosty Band, before taking a short break after he which carried on with his performance with the Neptunez Band playing.
He went for a high energy performance that left barely anyone seated. He sang, danced, laughed, and generally jazzed the crowd up, giving them every bit of their money’s worth.
At one point he got so worked up that bouncers had to position themselves strategically at the edges of the stage with white towels for the singer to wipe his drenched face with.
It was the first time a Burundian musician was gracing the Kigali Jazz Junction stage.
And it was well worth it. The dancing and screaming crowd was there to prove it.